London, June 25 (Reuters) – Liverpool were back at their lethal best to beat Crystal Palace 4-0 at Anfield on Wednesday, moving within two points of securing the Premier League title.
The victory, with goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane, ensured Juergen Klopp’s side could be crowned champions on Thursday if second-placed Manchester City fail to win at Chelsea.
Should Pep Guardiola’s side win at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool could finish the job with a victory in their next game, against defending champions City, on July 2.
“We’ve worked hard for this over the past few years and as a squad this is what we’ve dreamed of. We’re in a good position so hopefully we’ll be able to get across the line pretty soon,” said right back Alexander-Arnold, whose superb free kick broke the deadlock.
It was such a dominant performance from Klopp’s side, who had been held to a 0-0 draw by Everton on Sunday, that Palace did not have a single touch in Liverpool’s penalty area — the first time that has occurred in the Premier League since Opta began collating such stats in 2008.
After the Liverpool anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was played in front of the empty stadium, Roy Hodgson’s Palace suffered an early blow when Wilfried Zaha limped off injured in the 15th minute.
Alexander-Arnold fired Liverpool ahead in the 23rd minute with a perfectly-executed curling free kick into the top corner.
Salah doubled the advantage, a minute before the interval, chesting down a cross-field pass from Fabinho before skipping goalwards and slotting home.
Brazilian Fabinho made it 3-0 with a thundering drive from 25 metres out before Mane added the fourth, finishing off a classic break from Liverpool’s front three.
Martial treble keeps Man United in top-four hunt
Anthony Martial scored Manchester United’s first Premier League hat-trick for seven years to inspire a 3-0 home win over Sheffield United on Wednesday and maintain their hopes of a top-four finish.
The French forward’s maiden career treble was also the first by a United player in the league since former manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 after they won their record 20th league title.
United stayed fifth in the standings on 49 points from 31 games, two behind fourth-placed Chelsea whose game in hand is a home clash with champions Manchester City on Thursday.
Martial was delighted after taking his league tally to 12 goals, surpassing his previous record of 11 amassed in the 2015-16 season.
“I feel very good, it’s the first hat-trick in my career,” he told Manchester United television.
“I’m happy because the team played very good today. (Marcus Rashford) gave me one or two assists today, so the most important thing is to win. I tried to give him a chance to score, no competition, we just want to win.”
Martial linked up to devastating effect with Rashford as United, playing at Old Trafford for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic halted the league in mid-March, dismantled the visitors.
The Frenchman scored two similar goals in the opening half, firing United into a seventh-minute lead when he reacted instinctively with his weaker left foot after good work by Rashford on the right.
Keane goal gives Everton 1-0 win over rudderless Norwich
A second-half header by Michael Keane gave Everton a 1-0 away win against bottom side Norwich City in the Premier League on Wednesday, as the Canaries showed little sign of the spark they will need to avoid relegation.
Norwich did pressure the visitors on occasion in the first half, but it took until stoppage time for Lukas Rupp to test Everton keeper Jordan Pickford with a shot on target.
Everton upped the tempo considerably in the second half, taking the lead in the 55th minute when Keane sent a glancing header from a corner flying past Norwich keeper Tim Krul into the net.
Rather than sparking the home side into life, Norwich looked completely rudderless after they went behind, and the closest they came to an equaliser was when substitute Adam Idah forced a late corner.